A new survey shows a number of Workington school children are accessing alcohol through family members.
The town’s Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) asked 308 school children about their use of alcohol and vapes, and the results will help the partners tackle alcohol related harm in children.
The Workington CAP is led by Allerdale Local Focus Hub and includes organisations with a shared interest in preventing underage drinking and encouraging responsible drinking among young adults.
Emma Thompson, Senior Manager (Community Safety and Resilience) at Cumberland Council, said there was some cause for concern in the survey results, especially around the numbers of children who had been supplied with alcohol by family members.
She said: “When asked where they usually obtained alcohol, of the 205 people who answered, 194 said parents or other relatives were a source of alcohol. We have an opportunity to support and educate families on the risks of alcohol related harm in children and raise awareness of the impact on their health and wellbeing.
The children were also asked whether, in the last four weeks, anything negative had happened to them when they had been drinking – examples are getting in an argument, losing something valuable, engaging in sexual activity they later regretted, or putting themselves in a risky situation.
Mrs Thompson said: “Concerningly, out of 201 people who answered this, eight had been taken to hospital, 10 had missed school, 12 had got into trouble with the police, and 18 had been involved in sexual activity they had regretted the next day.
“Although around 69 per cent of respondents said they hadn’t suffered any negative consequences, this still means too many children are putting themselves in situations that are far from safe – this behaviour is exposing children to unnecessary risk."
The survey also asked whether the young people had vaped. Of the 290 children who responded, 133 said they had vaped.
Mrs Thompson said: “The most worrying part of this statistic was that, out of those who vaped, almost half said they used a vape at least five times a day.
“These findings show we need to be concerned about the use of alcohol and vapes among children in Workington. As a partnership, we need to make sure we are educating families and schools on the risks associated with this behaviour, and make sure they have direct access to resources to support them in discussions with their children."
CADAS (Cumbria Addictions Advice and Solutions) will offer support and information during the Workington Lights Switch-on event on 25 November. There will be games, quizzes and information to take away - all designed to help children and parents understand alcohol related harms.
Mrs Thompson said: "We are also giving schools lots of resources to tackle this issue, and our PCSOs will be visiting schools too. We will be reaching parents directly through school events and we can also signpost them to online resources."
Workington’s Community Alcohol Partnership is one of 250 across Britain, and includes the following partners: Cumberland Council (including Public Health, Licensing and Trading Standards), Cumbria Constabulary, CADAS, and Young Health Champions from the Energy Coast University Technical College.
The survey was carried out among pupils aged 13 to 16 at Workington Academy, St Joseph’s Catholic High School and Energy Coast University Technical College.